On December 17th, the CLUTCH girls walked into what I’m sure most of us would agree on as being one of the best CLUTCH workshops we’ve experienced so far. Gracing the empty, gloomy cold basement of the Kapisanan centre that day stood the vibrant and always beautiful musician, Maylee Todd! Known for her quirky and charismatic personality and extravagant stage performances involving furry costumes and some of the most exotic instruments, no other mentor would’ve felt more perfect to be leading this group in our much anticipated performance workshop.
This volume, the CLUTCH gang is made up of plenty of musicians, performers and more than this, some extremely unique and equally as dynamic personalities. What we all lacked though, was experience in letting all this show, especially in first impressions and actual live performances.
After some time spent warming up from the cold, and a random, excessively detailed conversation on all the different types of Herpes, the group was finally able to move on to breaking the ice even more with some nostalgic drama games. From the classic game Big Booty; where we all struggled to keep a beat, to an exercise where one word at a time, we each had to continue on a random story on the spot, this workshop was an obvious refreshing break from all the sitting and note-taking we’ve been doing lately in previous ones.
But beyond the laughing and the ridiculous improvised ideas shared during these games and exercises, one very important lesson was being emphasized to us. A universal lesson that applied to each an every one of us no matter how much each of our mediums differed; trust your initial instincts.
Stuffing our shirts with balloons for breast implants and putting on our best Japanese accents definitely proved how it really is best to just go with your gut. Whether it's a website you're designing, a painting you're finishing up or a song you're about to play, if you allow your ideas and performances to flow from out of your heart rather than from just your head, the quality of our final work will always turn out whole lot better. The more we thought about how interesting or funny our next move would be in a improvisational game, the less confident we were when we when it came to presenting it. Don't think too much. Just do!
Thinking on the spot and acting can be pretty tricky, but as hard as it may be to believe, the most difficult activity of Maylee's workshop was by far, the one which required nothing more from us than to simply tell a short joke.
For the ultimate performing test, each member of the group had to play the most ruthless audience possible by forcing ourselves to not even crack a smile at any part of the speaker's joke. Instead, it was the rest of the group's job to create the most uncomfortable situation possible in something that should've felt like a piece of cake. Because let`s face it, not everyone we meet is going to be easy to impress.
I felt confident with my voice projection and tone and my eye cotnact, but suddenly my arm, which hadnt even crossed my mind was apparently shaking. My shoulders, which i had been paying no attention to, apparently slouched so far down that I began to come off afraid of the group of girls I knew so well. Without the encouragement of all the usual chuckles expected to be heard after each punch line, suddenly my 3-lined joke felt like the crappiest few sentences I'd ever written in my life.
Whether the excercise was as simple as clapping our hands and yelling out a number or as difficult as reciting a joke to the harshest, most unimpressed type of audience, Maylee's workshop surely prepared us for a whole other type of art that none of us would have thought we would ever have to work so hard at. Be it having to meeting one new stranger or having to stand before a room full of people who have never even heard of you, every little movement, standing position, speaking pace, voice or tone gives off an impression - good or bad.
Nothing backs up good talent more than a good performance can!
Here is a video of a Filipino Soap Opera CLUTCH style, during the game of Human Puppet Improv.
Human Puppetry Meets Filipino Soap Opera